Graphs: Vocabulary

You need to know some special vocabulary for graphs.

In the IELTS exam, you have to write only 150 words, so show how much vocabulary you know. You don’t need to repeat the same words!

Movement (Verbs): Up

  • Rose
  • Went up
  • Increased
  • Grew
  • Shot up
  • Surged
  • Rocketed

Movement (Verbs): Down

  • Fell
  • Declined
  • Dropped
  • Decreased
  • Sank
  • Went down
  • Plunged
  • Plummeted


  • Between 1995 and 2000
  • From 1995 to 2000
  • Sales rose from 200 to 250
  • Sales fell to 150 in March
  • Sales fell by 50%

Adverbs and intensifiers

  • slightly
  • a little
  • a lot
  • sharply
  • suddenly
  • steeply
  • gradually
  • gently
  • steadily

No Movement: (Verbs with Adjectives, Verbs)

  • remained steady
  • were unchanged
  • did not change
  • remained constant
  • remained stable
  • stabilized

Tops and Bottoms

  • reached a peak
  • peaked
  • reached their highest level
  • fell to a low
  • sank to a trough
  • reached a bottom

Passengers at a London Underground Station

Click here for a sample text in a new window.

The graph shows the fluctuation in the number of people at a London underground station over the course of a day.

The busiest time of the day is in the morning. There is a sharp increase between 06:00 and 08:00, with 400 people using the station at 8 o’clock. After this the numbers drop quickly to less than 200 at 10 o’clock. Between 11 am and 3 pm the number rises, with a plateau of just under 300 people using the station.

In the afternoon, numbers decline, with less than 100 using the station at 4 pm. There is then a rapid rise to a peak of 380 at 6pm. After 7 pm, numbers fall significantly, with only a slight increase again at 8pm, tailing off after 9 pm.

Overall, the graph shows that the station is most crowded in the early morning and early evening periods.

Vocabulary Tips

  • Don’t repeat verbs
  • Before you start to write, make a list of synonyms (words with the same meaning)
  • See how many ways you can rephrase the title of the graph. Use one in the introduction and another in the conclusion with the same meaning
  • Be careful with prepositions. They can make a big difference in meaning. For example, “rose by” is very different from “rose to.” Learn your verbs with the preposition that goes with them.


Graph Source: Insight into IELTS, Vanessa Jakeman and Clare McDowell, Cambridge University Press